The Paducah Sun
The Paducah Sun
Paducah, Kentucky
Tuesday, August 07, 2001

Paducahan to get first check in sick workers' reparation
Labor Secretary Elaine Chao will present the lump-sum payment to the widow of a nuclear plant worker.

By Bill Bartleman

U.S. Labor Secretary Elaine Chao will be in Paducah Thursday to present the first $150,000 benefit check from a new workers' compensation program for sick nuclear plant workers and their families.

She is scheduled to be at the Department of Labor resource center on Memorial Drive at 9:15 a.m. to present the first check to Clara Harding of Paducah, whose husband, Joe Harding, died of cancer more than 20 years ago after making public claims that his illness was caused by his work at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant.

Since her husband's death, Clara Harding has maintained a high profile in her effort to get compensation for sick workers and their families.

U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, Chao's husband, also is scheduled to attend.

The Department of Labor began accepting claims on July 31. The $150,000 lump-sum payment will go to former workers who have certain types of cancer and worked at the plant prior to 1992. If the worker has died, the money will go to a surviving spouse, and, in some cases, to surviving children.

Officials say it will take several months to process claims.

Last month, the departments of labor and energy opened a resource center at 125 Memorial Drive across from Paducah Community College to help workers process claims.

The center is open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. The telephone number is 524-0599.